US ambassador to India leaving post

U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell announced Monday that she will resign from her diplomatic post, according to the embassy in New Delhi.

“U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell announced in a U.S. Mission Town Hall meeting March 31 that she has submitted her resignation to President Obama and, as planned for some time, will retire to her home in Delaware before the end of May,” a statement on the embassy’s website said. 

Powell became the first female U.S. ambassador to India when she arrived there in April 2012.  

She has worked for the State Department for 37 years, including stints as U.S. ambassador to Ghana, Nepal, Pakistan and Uganda. She also has worked in Canada, Togo, Bangladesh and Washington, D.C., where she served most recently as director general of the Foreign Service.

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The embassy statement said Powell expressed her appreciation for the work done by the U.S. Mission to India team, “who have worked to expand the parameters of the U.S.-India bilateral relationship.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf dismissed as "totally false" any rumors or speculation about Powell's resignation being connected to recent points of friction.

"It is in no way related to any tension, any recent situations. There is no big behind-the-scenes story here," Harf told reporters on Monday.

Her resignation was planned for some time, Harf said, and "doesn't indicate a realignment in the relationship" between the U.S. and India.

India and the U.S. have a "critical partnership" on a host of issues, she added.

Relations between the two countries have frayed since December, when Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was arrested and strip-searched by federal agents in New York City. She was accused of underpaying her nanny and committing visa fraud to get her into the United States.

In January, Khobragade moved back to India, after she was indicted by a federal grand jury and granted diplomatic immunity. She was indicted again earlier this month, but the charges were dismissed.

Late last year, the diplomat accused U.S. officials of performing a cavity search on her when she was arrested, but law enforcement officials refuted that claim.

The dispute prompted India to remove security barriers from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in December. India also demanded the U.S. withdraw an American diplomat, and the State Department complied. 

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz canceled his plans to visit India in January as a result of the diplomatic fight.